Melbourne musical theatre's "best kept secret" was officially revealed today when prolific producer John Frost announced his upcoming revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.
The production will be directed by Simon Phillips (above, right, with Frost), who helmed a smattering of successful boutique musicals, such as Urinetown and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, during his tenure at Melbourne Theatre Company.
Frost and Phillips shared the spotlight at Melbourne's Old Treasury House this morning to announce the show and share a few details about the exclusive Melbourne season. The merry, toga-clad pair described how the idea for the production came about, and the happy synergy of the availability of Geoffrey Rush and Her Majesty's Theatre.
Rush will play the beleaguered slave Pseudolus, joining the ranks of acclaimed comedians Zero Mostel, Frankie Howerd, Phil Silvers and Nathan Lane. Even Whoopi Goldberg had a go at the role, replacing Nathan Lane in the 1996 Tony-winning Broadway revival.
Frost promised that the cream of Australian musical comedy talent are being assembled, with at least 5-6 names in the company of 20 that will make the show a real must-see. The full cast is set to be announced in mid to late July, with rehearsals commencing in mid September.
Possibly the most exciting part of today's announcement was the news that composer Stephen Sondheim plans to come to Melbourne to attend opening night of the new production. The Australian production coincides with 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of …Forum, the first musical for which Sondheim music as well as lyrics.
The Melbourne-only season will begin previews at Her Majetsy’s Theatre on 20 October 2012, before an official opening night on 27 October. The twelve-week season is set to run until mid January 2013.
Bookings will open on Thursday, with more information available at the shows official Australian website www.funnything.com.au
Publicity doyenne Suzie Howie joined in the fun at today's launch:
Photos: Simon Parris